Trump administration announces plans to freeze Obama-era fuel-efficiency requirements

Traffic flows near the interchanges that link I-495 and I-270

Traffic flows near the interchanges that link I-495 and I-270

Seventeen states filed a lawsuit against the EPA in May after it announced plans to roll back auto emission standards and the agency is sure to face vigorous pushback over the proposal published today.

The affordability argument ignores thousands of dollars of saving in fuel costs for each driver over the life of a vehicle, opponents of the rollbacks said.

"What the EPA released was a proposed rule, not a final rule".

But in a statement published on The Wall Street Journal's website Thursday, Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao and acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler said that the Obama-era standards would "impose significant costs on American consumers and eliminate jobs".

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said on Twitter that "The #Trump Administration has launched a brazen attack, no matter how it is cloaked, on our nation's #CleanCarStandards". But a joint proposal released today by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) would freeze those standards for post-2020 models, meaning cars would only have to average about 37 mpg by 2026. "This will lead to more polluting vehicles, cost consumers more and it won't save any lives". California is confident the administration has no legal authority to revoke the waiver it has been granted under the Clean Air Act allowing it to keep the Obama-era rules in place. He said it was the administration's goal to come up with a "50-state solution that does not necessitate pre-empting California".

The proposed rule acknowledges that it would result in a 2 percent to 3 percent increase in fuel consumption, the equivalent of about half a million barrels of oil per day, and a small increase in global average temperature and carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

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"The law requires fuel economy standards in order to save fuel, and yet this proposal does just the exact opposite", said Shannon Baker-Branstetter, senior policy counsel for Consumers Union, the advocacy arm of Consumer Reports.

The Obama-era rules also drove vehicle prices higher, since prior estimates fell short of what incremental improvements to fuel efficiency actually cost.

In the years before California's extremely strict clean air rules, there were smog-filled skies that were fairly common. The administration also believes the change will shave about 7 or 8 percent off the cost of a new vehicle in the coming years, a savings of around $2,300.

The proposal to roll back anti-pollution efforts is in line with President Donald Trump's decision a year ago to abandon the 2015 Paris Agreement, under which countries agreed to take steps to mitigate global warming.

"Vehicles Rule for Model Years 2021-2026 Passenger Cars and Light Trucks", the proposal would freeze fuel economy standards at 2020 levels. "Their own numbers don't even support what I consider the deceptive messaging they're trying to pass on to people". Also, and manufacturers are talking about kind of having two different standards. Several other states followed California's guidelines, creating a fragmented set of standards across the country. Now they're only about one-third, with less-efficient trucks and SUVS making up the rest.

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